February 27th, 2008
02:00 PM ET
10 years ago

Obama and McCain trade barbs on Iraq

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/POLITICS/02/27/mccain.obama.iraq/art.mccain.camp.gi.jpg caption=" McCain and Obama got into a back in forth over Iraq Wednesday."]COLUMBUS, Ohio (CNN) – Presidential frontrunners Barack Obama and John McCain clashed over Iraq policy Wednesday, as the Illinois Democrat directed most of his criticism at the Arizona Republican – not his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton – during a campaign stop in this capital city six days before next week’s primary.

“John McCain may like to say he wants to follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell, but so far all he’s done is follow George Bush into a misguided war in Iraq,” Obama said.

Earlier, McCain released a statement that attacked Obama for his comments at Tuesday’s debate that were critical of the Iraq war.

"Last night, we also heard Sen. Obama say that once he withdrew US forces from Iraq he would 'reserve the right' to act 'if Al Qaeda is forming a base in Iraq,'” McCain said in the statement. “Is Sen. Obama unaware that Al Qaeda is still present in Iraq, that our forces are successfully fighting them every day, and that his Iraq policy of withdrawal would embolden Al Qaeda and weaken our security?

“Where is the audacity of hope when it comes to backing the success of our troops all the way to victory in Iraq? What we heard last night was the timidity of despair. Our allies deserve better, our soldiers deserve better, and so do the American people."

During his appearance at Ohio State University, Obama accused McCain of trying to score cheap political points.

“McCain thought that he could make a clever point by saying 'Well, let me give you some news, Barack, al Qaida IS in Iraq,' like I wasn’t reading the papers, like I didn’t know what was going on. …”

“But I have some news for John McCain, and that is that there was no such thing as al Qaida in Iraq until George Bush and John McCain decided to invade Iraq… he took us into war along with George Bush that should have never been authorized and should have never been waged.

Obama continued, “They took their eye off the people who were responsible for 9/11, and that would be al Qaida in Afghanistan that is stronger now than at any time since 2001. I’ve been paying attention, John McCain! That’s the news. So John McCain may like to say he wants to follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell, but so far all he’s done is follow George Bush into a misguided war in Iraq…”

Obama’s appearance was one of his first forays to the Central Ohio city that lies at the heart of what has traditionally been one of the most hotly-contested general election battleground areas in this bellwether state.

On Wednesday, the Obama campaign also announced the endorsement of North Dakota Sen. Byron Dorgan, and that the number of donors had surpassed one million.

- CNN’s Rebecca Sinderbrand and Chris Welch

soundoff (139 Responses)
  1. Charlotte

    Now Obama accuses McCain of cheap political points. Isn't points part of the game. Anyone who trumps him is cheap politics. My grandson is in Iraq doing his job. If I must choose Obama or McCain I'll take McCain. I don't want to have to go back and fight a stronger enemy later. Lets get them now. Bush senior didn't do the job when we were two miles from the finish line, and look what that got us.

    February 27, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  2. Jimmy P - Chicago

    Obama couldn't tinkle his way out of a bag – he's a total pacifist. He would be a fiasco for this country from which we would never recover. The nutball commentator may have been wrong for speaking as he did at that forum yesterday – but what he was saying was w/out doubt dead on.

    February 27, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  3. Linda Feldman

    Thankfully, the race for the White House is exactly where it should be– focused on George Bush and his failed policies and where 2/3 of the American people agree.

    February 27, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  4. James CA

    You're forgetting Al Qaida is in Iraq because of McCain and follow idiots in the senate who couldn't see through smoke and mirrors.

    February 27, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  5. DJ

    Obama is right 100%. Al Queda is not in Iraq. It is in Afghanistan and it is only getting stronger. That's what I call sound judgement. Who said Obama is inexperienced or not tough enough? Who said McCain has expericence. If this old guy doesn't even know the geography, if he doesn't even know who hit us and where did these guys come from, how does he serve us good as commander-in-chief? It's about time somebody hung a huge global political map in our President's office and teach them geography.

    February 27, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  6. S

    Where are all those Democrats-" I have been lifelong Democrat for 300, 400,or 500 years..however If Obama wins, I will vote for McCain?"
    Common Democrats, we need to vote for Republican this year..

    February 27, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  7. Wake up people!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Bush=Dumb. McCain=Dumber!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 27, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  8. Enrique

    McCain is borrowing a page from Bush/Cheney's book on trying to fool Americans into thinking that Iraq was linked to 9/11. Doesn't he know that we've figured out that we were all duped? We know that Osama bin Laden is somewhere in Afghanistan or Pakistan, not Iraq.

    February 27, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  9. N.S.

    What McCain forgets is that Al-Qaeda did not have ANY presence in Iraq until he and Bush invaded, and it is likely that the terrorist group will lose interest in Iraq when we finally withdraw. We are the honey in the bees' nest.

    February 27, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  10. Marty, Orlando Fl

    John Mcain, why don't you just retire already.
    We don't need you a commander in chief.

    Obama '08

    February 27, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  11. west palm beach, Hawk

    McCain you have alot to explain to the American people My Friend.

    February 27, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  12. Mike

    Great point Senator McCain. The Obama retreat in Iraq would most likely lead to a genocidal civil war there, with subsequent intervention by both Turkey and Iran. Then what would he do?

    Obama's foreign policy is the Audacity of Fear.

    February 27, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  13. Pat Arnold

    I think I head Obama say last night on the debate that he wanted to unite all religions and have one. Would someone please get an interview with him and ask him point blank, "If he becomes president would we still have freedom of Religion." He needs to be questioned on this before the American people NOW. See I believe in the BIBLE and I do not want one religion but freedom of religion. I do not want his and Oprah's religion. I will eagerly be waiting to hear his answer. Pat

    February 27, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  14. John - Spokane, WA

    McCain will DESTROY Obama if he wins the nominee – Thats why you have all of these Republicans pushing for Obama and trashing Hillary – they know they can't Beat Hillary in the General Election. Wake up Democrats, its time to smell the coffee !

    February 27, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  15. David

    McCain couldnt have said it better.

    February 27, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  16. David, Tulsa OK

    That's a risky strategy Barak is using - trying to use the same "I'm above you" approach that has worked against Billary's negativity.

    I'm not sold on McCain, but he makes a valid point and legitmately uses Barak's words against him on Iraq.

    I think the bottom line is that a lot of independents and left-leaning republicans want substantive answers to charges like the one McCain made, and at this point I'm tired of hearing people slam Bush for getting us in a war - I want to know what the remaining candidates are going to do to either win it or leave without making it worse, and Barak talked himself into a circle on this one.

    February 27, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  17. Belle

    Pretty good....now Obama attacks McCain like he did Clinton....

    I don't BELIEVE for a second it is McCain's fault Al Qaida was NOT in IRAQ...especially WHEN WE BOMBED STRATEGIC HIDEOUTS OF AL QAIDA IN IRAQ!!!!!!!!!!

    Obama is willing to stretch truth almost to snapping so he can win....but at what cost? The integrity of Hillary Clinton, NEXT HE WILL ACCUSE THE VIETNAM WAR LOSS BECAUSE OF THE EXPERIENCE OF JOHN MCCAIN.

    I am a Democrat that IS voting for McCain if Clinton does not get the nomination.

    February 27, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  18. No Really

    How many more US lives will be lost if we withdraw only to have to re-invade a dug in al-Queada in Iraq??

    February 27, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  19. rb

    If Obama wins the nomination, my vote is McCain

    February 27, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  20. john

    I hope that Obama will not come up with one more story of US army taking wepons from Al Qaida in iraq to fight insurgency

    February 27, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  21. Barack Oprah

    Does Obama think he won the nomination?
    Let's see.

    February 27, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  22. AngiePagilagan

    I wonder whatObama will do when asked a question when he is against Mc Cain. in a debate?Clinton was right she is always asked the first question since 40 percent of the time Obama does not know the answer he just piggyback with what Clinton says and always said he agrees with her as if he is going to say the same thing and he is good in diverting an answer which does not answer the question being asked .
    he is a good DIVERTER of The answer to a questionnow without Hillary will he give Mccain the eye and say i agree with him. I do not know why really wHY DO WE PICK A PRESIDENT LIKE OBAMA. I AM REALLY AFRAID WE NEED SOMEONE A FIGHTER WHO GETS THINGS DONE. and you know there will be a lot of criticism and the republicans do not care about your race OBAMA IS NOTHING ZERO EXPERIENCE SO GOD HELP OUR COUNTRY

    February 27, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  23. KJ

    it was pretty obvious to anyone with a clue that Obama said "if Al-Quaida is forming a base in Iraq" in regards to the HYPOTHETICAL question that what would he do after we leave if unrest happened.

    he clearly realizes Al Queda are in Iraq currently (but weren't prior to our invasion), nice try John

    which is worse, the hypothetical, or the fact that John McCain called Putin the President of Germany over the weekend?

    February 27, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  24. wait a minute

    I can't wait to see how McCain and Obama debate each other.
    We are waiting for you, Hillary!

    February 27, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  25. Debra

    I think McCain won that one. Obama's response was weak. It might work on another Democrat who agrees we shouldn't be there, but watch out Obama, your tactics won't work on the Republicans who think we should be in Iraq. This is nothing compaired to to what you wil see once you get the nomination.

    February 27, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
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